Tag Archives: good

Loving Laws or Loving People

Loving Laws or Loving People

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Galatians 5:14

Do you know someone that is hyper critical?  I mean, they have a problem with everyone and everything.  “The temperature is too hot.  The music is too fast. The speaker is too loud.  The women are dressing wrong.  The bulletin was not folded right.  The deacons should have a tie on.  The people helping are not doing it the same way I would do it. The van is parked at the wrong place.  The family is too big or too small.”  You get the idea.

Hyper critical people have forgotten the “Who” they should be loving.  Instead of loving God and loving people, they love a “What.”   They love rules.  They love laws.  They love their preferences and personal expectations and project them onto other people in a way that is detrimental to relationship.

If we could learn to love people more than our preferences, programs, and personal pet peeves, then we would show more honor to the Lord.  And in turn actually live out God’s law instead of a human version of His law.

Loving our neighbor does several things:

  1. Considers others ahead of ourselves.
  2. Creates a forgiving temperament.
  3. Causes more healthy relationships.
  4. Casts aside personal preferences.
  5. Calms personal interactions with others.

Music styles in church can have great variety and still please the Lord.

Preaching and teaching styles vary greatly from person to person, and God can use each delivery style in wonderful ways.

Organizational structure, facility maintenance, the next building project, and more need not be a stumbling point for you or for others at your church.  When we love God and love others, no matter the rules we may impose on ourselves, we do not need to let those preferential things divide and hurt relationships.

One terrific example is the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  This church had pure doctrine.  They withstood persecution.  They even had a good work ethic.  But Jesus said “You left your first love.”  These second generation Christians, with a godly heritage, clung to laws, rules, and preferences to the neglect of loving Jesus.  They loved their “version of Christianity” more than they loved Jesus!

Don’t let rules and regulations or personal preferences stop you from loving your family (or church family) the way the Lord wants you to love them.

Love people more than laws.

 

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Take it to the Bank

Take it to the Bank

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  Titus 2:13-14

One of my favorite words in all the Bible is the word “hope.”   Hope in Scriptures has a deeper meaning than what we use in our modern society today.  Instead of “I hope my team will win” or “I hope the weather is good,” hope is a conformable and happy expectation.  Not a “maybe” but a for sure.  Bible hope is certain.  I like to define hope as a confident and happy expectation.

The reason hope is confident is not because of the circumstances, our ability, the resources at hand, or the authority of someone.  The reason hope is confident is because the hope is founded upon the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.   God is constant.  God is stable.  God is everlasting and eternal.  There is nothing more powerful or greater than God.  He is above all, in all, and He can work through all.  God is all-powerful, everywhere present, and all-knowing!  When God says something – we can count on it!  Take it to the bank!

You know the old phrase” take it to the bank.”  In other words, the money at the bank is guaranteed.  You can count on the check not to bounce.  the person issuing the check, or credit is dependable and the money will be there.  The same is true for God – we can “take it to the bank” – what the Lord has said He will do.  We can place our complete hope in Him.

The “Blessed Hope” is the soon coming time when Jesus returns to the earth and suspends Himself in the clouds above the earth.  When He does appear, a trumpet will sound.  This loud and distinct trumpet is only heard by believers in Jesus.  Only individuals who have placed their faith in Jesus for their eternal salvation and forgiveness of sins will ascend into Heaven “to meet the Lord in the air.”  This event is known as the “Rapture.”

Those who have said “no” to Jesus and rejected God’s free gift of eternal life will not hear the trumpet.  In fact, they will believe a lie, a delusion as to where all those people disappeared to.  Christians are “listening for the trumpet!  This encourages and motivates us to tell people about salvation today while they can still trust in Jesus.  The Gospel needs to be shared.  God can use you to share His Word with others.

Jesus said He is coming back for Christians in the Rapture.  We can take it to the bank!

What is your hope in today?  Religion cannot get a person into Heaven.  Being a “good person” is not good enough for God.  God demands perfect for entrance into His Heaven.  We are not and cannot be perfect.  However, the Perfect God, Jesus died in our place!  Our hope is in Him and Him alone.

Are you looking for the blessed hope?  If you are not yet saved and the Rapture takes place, instead of the blessed hope, you will experience a terrible nightmare called the Tribulation.  Don’t chance it.  Don’t wait.  Place your faith in Jesus for your salvation.

Together, let’s look forward and for the blessed hope!

 

 

The Critical Eye

The Critical Eye

And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.  And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?  How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.   Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.  Matthew 12:1-14

Have you ever been around a person that is constantly complaining?  Have you ever been that person?  Perhaps all of us know someone that is always “pouring cold water” on a situation or known to be a “Johnny Rain-Cloud.”  People who are hyper critical can find fault with even the best of things in life.

Think of it this way – Jesus was and is perfect.  No fault. No sin. Nothing wrong with Jesus, and yet the hyper religious pharisees found what they perceived to be a fault – Jesus was healing people on the Sabbath day and that must constitute work in their ungracious estimation.  These men were perceiving things the wrong way because they had conceived their own way of following God’s law.  The expectations they demanded of others were a figment of their own thinking – not the Lord’s.  They had added new rules to God’s Law for everyday for the year!

Everyone should grow in discernment.  This is something the Bible says we should have.  Being critical of others and having personal discernment are not the same thing.  These religious leaders, many of whom could quote long passages of the Old Testament, did not have any practical smarts about them to see Jesus was doing better than the Law was actually calling for.  Watch out – when you start to “nit-pick” others, your eye is becoming critical.

Here are several thoughts about the critical eye.

  1. Those with critical eyes tend to hold others to higher standards than they hold themselves.
  2. Those with critical eyes choose not to see the good that is evident all around them.
  3. Those with critical eyes are quick to complain and let their critique be known – no matter how foolish their words really are.  Imagine – criticizing Jesus – doing good!
  4. Those with critical eyes neglect to have a close fellowship with God.  Instead of praising God, they praise themselves with their proud stance and egotistical demands.
  5. Those with critical eyes get angry very fast.  These irate leaders wanted to kill Jesus.
  6. Those with critical eyes are more emotional and listen less to common sense and reason.  If a man had a sheep fall into a pit and he rescued it – how is it any better or worse for Jesus to heal a man with a withered hand?  Their critical eye and angry heart refused basic reason and it diminished their thinking skills.
  7. Those with critical eyes fail to see the goodness of God.

Jesus did amazing things in His time on earth in the New Testament.  I suggest to you that Jesus continues to to incredible things through His people – His church today.  If you can’t see it – reexamine your heart.  Check your spiritual eyesight.  Sadly, there are many people who look at life like the Pharisees did.

Clean your classes off.  Open the Bible and see our Good and Great God!  Look to serve others by finding ways to carry others, not criticize them.  Avoid having a critical eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Intentions Are Not That Good

Good Intentions Are Not That Good

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.  Jeremiah 17:10

“In one Peanuts comic strip Sally was struggling with her memory verse for Sunday. She was absorbed in her thoughts trying to figure it out when she remembered, “Maybe it was something from the book of Reevaluation.””   (min127).

We must allow the Bible to impact our hearts and lives. Each time you read the Word or hear a Bible message, do a reevaluation of your heart and mind. Let the Bible cut right to the matters of the heart and decide to not merely have good intentions in the Christian life, but to actually takes steps and strides with Jesus.

Some people say: “God knows my heart” in an effort to justify or rationalize a lack of faithfulness or to explain a decision that they have made. God knows your heart, but that is not an “Excuse” for what you DO or Do Not DO.  He does not just examine intentions but actions.  The Lord “gives” according to our “ways” and doings.”

Good intentions are not the same thing as good actions. Good intentions left by themselves are not that good. They need to be accompanied by good actions.   Because God knows your heart, He knows what motivates you and what discourages you.  He knows why you do what you do and “what makes you tick.”

Like Jeremiah 17:9 says – the heart… is “desperately wicked: who can know it.”  Don’t just follow your heart – follow the heart of God.  Do not merely obey your will, but obey the will of God the Father.

Go beyond having “good intentions…”

 

 

 

Hearing, Learning, and Fearing

Hearing, Learning, and Fearing

Moses is 120 years old.  His voice is still strong, mind still sharp, and his body is still capable.  He is told by God that he will get to peer over and get a peek at the Promised Land, but that he will not be able to go into the land. This was because of is disobedience in striking the Rock.

God gives Moses a “song” to declare to the people.  Following the song and some final words, Moses hikes up Mount Nebo and dies. Amazingly, God buries Moses.  No-one knows where the burial plot is to this day.

Interestingly, we get an idea of effective parenting and effective communication from the instructions Moses leaves with the people in this farewell address:

Deuteronomy 31:12-13  says, “Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: 13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.”

Please note the underlined words above.  Perhaps you want to underline them in your Bible.  Several times in Scripture this idea of “Hear and Fear” and of “Hear, Learn, and Fear” are found.

In the narrative of Deuteronomy, Moses is giving God’s promises concerning blessing and cursing.  The nation of Israel would be blessed and prospered when they worshipped God alone.  They would be cursed and other nations would conquer them when they would worship false gods.  Much of the rest of the Old Testament is dedicated to this underlying theme of Israel’s blessing and cursing, their wandering and coming back to God.

Consider the teaching points Moses gives: “Hear, Learn, Fear.”

Hear. If you have ever been a teacher in a classroom of students or have taken classes on the subject, you know that you cannot teach someone if you do not have their attention.  The student must give their “hearing” to the teacher.

Limiting classroom distraction, and insisting on a student to focus are part of the “hearing” aspect of instruction.  There are many distractions in school settings today; it could be the glib comments of another student, the immoral seduction of a immodestly dressed girl, or the profane words of a teacher.

In addition, the student must want to focus and the parent must make the student motivated to want to hear the instruction in the classroom.

In much the same way, the Lord wants us to “hear” Him.  God wants us to listen to His Word.  Avoid letting other people distract you from hearing the message of the Lord.  Do not blame others for your lack of focus or lack of attention.

In parenting, be sure to help you child focus on the main things in life, not the inconsequential.  Develop their listening skills.  One reason we listen to many radio dramas in our home is to develop the “hearing” senses in our children.  Being able to give instruction and not having to repeat it several times is a good goal for parenting.  Our children should be taught to “hear” well.

Learn.  Learning takes place in every area of life.  We learn responses to others, defensive mechanisms so others do not hurt us, and reactions to undesirable situations.

When you were in school, you learned both good and bad lessons.  You learned some academics, and you learned some immoral or sinful behavior from other students.  We learn from what we are “hearing” the most.  If you are hearing and focusing on the facts of History or Science, that is what you will learn.  If you are hearing people mock or curse God – that is what you will learn.

Be careful what you are learning and from whom you are learning.  Who we listen to dictates much of what will be learned and what we will end up believing.

Parents have a challenge of developing the “learning” of their children.  From the classroom to the living room, you are responsible to make sure they are hearing the correct teaching and learning the Christian way to perceive and live life.

Limiting TV, controlling social media outlets, and having specific guidelines for cellphones is part of your parental responsibility.  I would not encourage any teen to have a cell phone or computer alone with them in their bedroom at night.  The heart of your teen is the target for many evil people who want them to “hear” them and then in turn “learn” from them.

Fear. Like Moses addressed the “Children of Israel” we can appropriately determine to have the same course of action in our parenting approach.  The goal of “hearing” and “learning” was to “fear” God.

Fear is a term that can be misunderstood today.  Biblical fear of God means “to fear; morally, to revere; be afraid, and to hold in reverence.”  The Lord is someone Who means what He says and says what He means.

Sometimes we are “afraid of being caught.”  That is not the same as the “Fear of the Lord.”  Fearing God has to do with a respect, reverence, and wonder for God – His might, power, ability, and Who He is – the King, Judge, and Savoir.  We should want to please Him.  There are blessings and consequences to all our actions.

Just like a child who loves his earthly father but is afraid to do wrong because he knows he will displease his father and face punishment -we too are to fear the Lord.  Just look at the criminal justice system for an example.  Those incarcerated had a disregard for the law – they did not fear the consequences nor have a fear for the law.

One of the greatest tragedies about many Christian families today is that we can make our kids “Hear” but we do not get them to the “Learn.”  Then others have their kids “Hear” and “Learn” but they never get to the “Fear” part.

The passage does say “Learn to fear.”  It is one thing to learn about God and another thing to learn to fear Him.  Somehow each parent must guide their children to have an overriding fear of God in their heart.  Here are four ideas to help:

  1. Follow through with promises. Be a parent of your word.
  2. Follow through with consequences. Do not rob your child the good (and sometimes painful) lessons that consequences bring.
  3. Focus your family life on pleasing the Lord. Let them see the underlying principles of loving God and others more than self.
  4. Let your kids see your Christianity in such a positive way that they will want it for their lives too. Like Ecclesiastes 12:13 instructs: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

 

 

 

Responding to Our Public Leaders

Responding to our Public Leaders

Romans 13:1-7 is a passage of Scripture devoted to the Christian response to our governmental leaders.  No matter which side if the isle and what model of leadership they offer, the Bible has a “one size fits all” approach the Christian should consider for his response to our public leaders.  Note the following Scripture:

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Application from Romans 13:1-7 includes:

  1. Be a Good Subject. We do not have kings in America, but we do have leaders that God has appointed to lead us.  Even if we disagree with the leader, it is God who has placed him there.
  2. Do Good Works. A citizen who is not breaking the law should have no fear of the government.  The government does not terrorize law abiding citizens.  Law breakers should be fearful of the consequences of their breaking the law.  The government was appointed by God to “bear the sword” or enforce the rules of the land.  People doing good should have nothing to fear.
  3. Have a Clear Conscience. The leaders are held accountable to God, by God.  We can vote people in or out of office, but ultimately any leader answers the God. We can have a clear conscience in the areas of showing respect, observing the law, and being proper in our response to the leaders.
  4. Show Honor. I have heard many “Good people” say jokes about various presidents or other political leaders.  It is not right to mock authority.  We are to show honor.  Even if the person is no longer respectable because of scandal, impeachment, or some other cloud hanging over them, the position they hold should be revered and respected.  God established and ordained the position they are holding. God put them in that position.  It is right to show honor, not name calling, mocking, or scorning.  Most people need to learn to disagree with grace.

Praying for our leaders is one final admonition for this post.  No matter if in “my” party, the “other” or no party, our leaders need our prayers.  We are on the same national team. It is God who “holds the Kings Heart.”  It is God who can work despite sinful men.  It is the Lord who shows mercy and grace every day.  We are to pray.  1 Timothy 2:1-2 declares: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

Have you prayed for our nation today?  Have you prayed for the outgoing and incoming president?  Posting to social media is not as important as praying to God on behalf of our leaders.  Will you have a proper Christian response to our leaders?